The New York-based Vilcek Foundation, which has recognized the contributions of immigrants in the arts and sciences since its founding in 2000 through the Vilcek Prize, has launched a series of manga biographies documenting the lives of its prizewinners. The first to get the treatment? The 89-year-old, Zambia-born and South Africa-raised Denise Scott Brown, who won the 2007 Vilcek Prize in Architecture.
For the foundation’s first outing, they tapped the Japanese manga artist and Brooklyn resident Hiroki Otsuka to visualize Scott Brown’s 2007 acceptance speech, where she touched on life in South Africa in the 1960s, Learning from Las Vegas, and the Vilcek Foundation’s recognition of her entire life’s work, not just in the states. Otsuka also illustrated Scott Brown’s famous “circus rider” refrain, where she described the constant balancing act of having one foot in architecture, the other in urban planning, the divide between the traditional and the new, life in the United States and life in South Africa; a constant duality in life and practice.
“The concept for a manga came out of a long conversation I had with Denise last summer, when she was in isolation due to the pandemic,” said Rick Kinsel, president of the Vilcek Foundation, in a statement to AN. “We wanted to document elements of Denise’s story and legacy that go beyond her teachings and her constructed works, and delve into her approach. In developing the manga, Denise spoke at length with Hiroki Otsuka and our Creative Programs Associate, Kayla Clifford, and reviewed drafts prior to publication. Denise reached out last week to express her gratitude, and to share her delight in the manga as a portrait of her life and work.”
The full manga is available on the foundation’s website, here.
Denise Scott Brown was the foundation’s first Vilcek Prize in Architecture winner. The other four winners, all recognized in 2018, include Jing Liu, cofounder of SO – IL; OFFICE JAMES LENG founder James Leng; Mona Ghandhi, assistant professor of architecture at Washington State University; and academic and researcher Teddy Cruz.